Last week, figures released by HMRC found £5.8billion was stolen from pandemic relief schemes such as furlough and self-employment support by people claiming cash they were not entitled to.
A special taskforce recovered £500million last year and is expecting to recover an additional £1billion from scammers.
This means the Treasury only expects to write off £4.3billion – or £1 of every £4 taken – by fraudsters, the Mirror reported.
Now, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, has lashed out at the Government.
Ms Rayner tweeted a video from December where Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves, said allowing fraudsters to take billions of public money was a “criminal waste” of taxpayers’ money.
In her own tweet, Ms Rayner branded the Government as incompetent.
She tweeted: “Imagine how helpful the billions £ that has been taken by fraudsters could help those in fuel poverty now.
“This Conservative Government are totally incompetent.
“Even worse, they don’t seem to care.”
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“Leaving the till open and unattended for thieves to clear out would be a sackable offence for a shopworker, yet apparently it is acceptable for a Chancellor.”
And Shadow Business Minister Bill Esterson tweeted: “You can bet this Government wouldn’t be so casual if it was benefit claims.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We introduced these unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods.
“The result of the action is our economy is back to pre-pandemic levels, we are the first major European economy to report that.”
He added: “Obviously fraud is unacceptable and we’re taking against those who abuse the system – 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500million recovered last year, HMRC taskforce is expected to recover an additional £1billion of taxpayers’ money.”
HMRC boss Jim Harra admitted last year that all the money would likely never be returned.
He told the Financial Times: “We will not be able to recover it all.
“You will reach a point of diminishing returns in terms of good use of resources.
“These are time-limited schemes.
“We do need to put them to bed at some stage and move on from them.
“And 2022/23 is the year for which our plans go up [to].
“Whether there’s anything that goes on beyond that will depend, I think, on what we find and the rate of return that we’re getting.”